Gay Taiwan News & Reports 2011

1 Some religious groups and parents oppose equal rights 4/11

2 No death penalty provision in Uganda anti-gay bill 4/11

3 Groups clash over new gender equality school curriculum 5/11

4 Parents of LGBT children in Taiwan launch official group 7/11

5 Taiwan denies gay foreign diplomats immunity for their spouses 7/11

6 Taiwan To Host Gay Marriage Celebrations 8/11

7 Taiwan hosts its biggest same-sex ‘wedding’ party 8/11

8 Thai transgender conscripts no longer "insane" 8/11

9 Gay parade calls for end to discrimination 10/11

10 Photos from the LGBT Pride Parade 2011 in Taipei 10/11

April 6, 2011 – Taiwan’s Primary and Secondary Education About Homosexuality
(Translated from Chinese)

Some religious groups and parents oppose equal rights; advocates urged not to ignore therm

Gender Equality Education Zaixianbolan. Ministry of Education plans to implement in 2011, Comrade education into the national school year curriculum outline, triggering protests of parents and religious groups to delete this part of the course content and outline the implementation of the suspension. However, including the Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association, including eight non-governmental organizations today (5) come forward to express strong dissatisfaction, that if you delete the Ministry of Education, Comrade education, gender equality law will be the biggest defeat the implementation of 7 years.

The Ministry of Education to promote "campus security, gender equality, respect for diversity" and the value of the 100 year plan (2011) outline in elementary and middle class, the integration of gender equality in education issues. However, the Ministry of Education distributed to teachers teaching resources reference manual trigger a strong reaction from parents and religious groups, the Ministry of Education of emergency fire-fighting, emphasizing not the comrades of education into the teaching outline.

Including the Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association and the Awakening groups of 8 5 held a press conference, have expressed strong dissatisfaction. Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association, said the Secretary-General Lai Youmei: ?(acoustic) I think this is gender equality education in 7 years by the backlash over big. We believe that understanding can hegemony Ling gay, anti-discrimination. In fact, as long as the exclusion comrades, it is not gender-equal education. ?

Civil society groups called on the community concerned about bullying at the same time, do not ignore the existence of gay young people, do not ignore the gay student on campus may have been bullying.

The manual of teaching resources the dispute, civil society groups said it was taken out of context caused by the misunderstanding. In fact, some of the main controversial wants to teach young gay safe sex, rather than the misunderstanding of the liberation of the outside world.

For the controversies erupted, the Ministry of Education said that, it will then listen to various views, and teachers and parent groups, and further explanation and communication. (Central Broadcasting Station, writing: Shen Ya Wen, May 5, 2011)

Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association and other groups 5, held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan, the Ministry of Education plans to comrades education into the nine-year integrated curriculum framework, triggering protests of parents and religious groups, to delete the content, the expression of opposition. (Central News Agency reporter Wu Yi Ning Chang)

26 April, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

No death penalty provision in Uganda anti-gay bill

Kampala, Uganda — The Ugandan parliamentarian behind an anti-homosexual bill that attracted worldwide condemnation says the most controversial part of the proposed legislation – the death penalty provision – is likely to be dropped. David Bahati says if the committee the bill currently sits before recommends that the provision be removed, that he would concede the issue.

Full text of article available at link here

13 May 2011 – Fridae

Taipei gay rights groups and conservative Christian group clash over new gender equality school curriculum

by News Editor
Gender and gay rights advocacy groups on Thursday filed a lawsuit against a group they say is deliberately spreading falsehoods to undermine a new gender equality curriculum originally set to be introduced in schools in September.
Several groups including the Taiwan Gender Equality Education Association (TGEEA) has filed a lawsuit with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday morning, reported the Taipei Times newspaper. The lawsuit was filed against the Taiwan Union for True Love which gay rights groups say was deliberately spreading falsehoods to undermine a new gender equality curriculum originally set to be introduced in schools in September.

“We are suing a Mr Chi from the so-called ‘Union for True Love’ because the group has repeatedly spread lies in an effort to undermine the gender equality curriculum,” said Lo Hui-wen, a member of TGEEA in the Times. “We do not know Mr Chi’s real name, because he has never revealed it.” The TGEEA was joined by members from the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, the Taiwan Adolescent Association on Sexualities, the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan and the Tong-Kwang Light House Presbyterian Church in a demonstration outside the Ministry of Education before heading to the prosecutors’ office.

The controversy over the curriculum made the news in late April after members of the Union for True Love took what they claimed were excerpts from a textbook to lawmakers, who then called for the curriculum to be suspended until the controversy had been cleared up. In Taiwan, gender equality-related courses are currently taught in senior high school in accordance with the Gender Equity Education Act that was passed in 2004. The Act bans gender discrimination in schools in Taiwan, and stipulates that school curricula should include gender equality education.

The MOE says the new directive will allow teachers to introduce the topic in September in elementary and junior high schools, with the aim of teaching children and teenagers to understand and respect diversity in sexual orientation from a younger age. At a press conference and on Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association’s website, the groups detailed the false information propagated by the Union for True Love as part of its efforts to undermine the proposed gender equality curriculum as promoting “sexual openness.”

The Times noted:
For example, the Union for True Love has claimed the curriculum was teaching children sexual positions and it has said it encourages children to try different types of relationships — even polygamy.

“The curriculum mentions none of those things,” TGEEA secretary-general Lai Yu-mei (???) said. The Union for True Love has also deliberately twisted some of actual content of the curriculum, Lai said.

For example, the union has said the curriculum promotes gay marriage, but in fact the part on gay marriage is introduced in a section on different types of families, including single-parent families, transnational families, gay families and adoptive families. Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association board member Goffy told the newspaper that based on his investigative work he believes the Union for True Love comprises members of conservative Christian churches.

“They say they’re opposed to ideas on sex that are ‘too open.’ In fact, they are just anti-gay,” Goffy was quoted as saying. “They launched an online petition against the curriculum, but their demands have been revised several times and only the attacks on homosexuals remain.”

11 July 2011 – Fridae

Parents of LGBT children in Taiwan launch official group

by News Editor
Loving Parents of LGBT , Taiwan’s first official group for parents of LGBT people, was launched last Friday, Jul 8 at a press conference held at the at the Legislative Yuan. Helmed by Mrs Georgia Kuo who is affectionately known as Kuo Mama (Mummy Kuo) in the community, her new group Loving Parents of LGBT wasted no time and immediately called on the government to be more tolerant toward the LGBT community and for an equal rights bill. "Gays are just like everyone else, they have parents, like us, and they, as well as their parents, pay taxes just like every citizen of this country – so they should enjoy the same rights as everybody else," said Kuo who is in her fifties and a mother of lesbian daughter, reported the Taipei Times.

In an interview with Fridae last year, Kuo, who was featured in Fridae’s LGBT People to Watch 2010 series, said she became involved with LGBT advocacy group Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association (TTHA) after attending a meeting for parents of LGBT children in 2004. That was four years after her daughter – then 15 – came out to her. By the following year, she had persuaded the other parents whom she had met in previous meetings to form a support group; calling themselves "Parents in Closet" – a literal translation of the group’s name in Chinese (gui fu mu). The group evolved to become "LGBT In and Out Parents Association" , the first organisation of its kind in Taiwan.

Kuo says the aim of the group is to help gay children talk to their parents about their sexual orientation and help parents to accept their children for who they are; and parents parents need both peer support and the right resources to help each other gain more understanding. “Many people may think it’s hard to make your parents accept that you love someone of your own gender, which is why less than 30 percent of the LGBT population ‘come out of the closet’ to their parents,” Kuo said. “But based on our own experience, most parents are willing to accept the fact when their kids make an effort to communicate with their parents.”

According to Focus Taiwan, the group also expressed their support for a government initiative to include LGBT issues in the curriculum for elementary and junior high school students, with effect from next semester. Since the Ministry of Education’s announcement earlier this year, the news has drawn mixed reactions, with conservative groups saying it was an inappropriate subject for students at that level, while others welcomed it as a step in the right direction. "This is our only hope," said Kuo. "There is nothing wrong with them and they don’t need to change," said Kuo, who related that her daughter was rudely called a "pervert" in fifth grade.

Read more about Mrs Kuo and how she came to be involved in setting up the parents’ group in Fridae’s LGBT People to Watch 2010: Georgia Kuo.

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26 July 2011 – PinkNews

Taiwan denies gay foreign diplomats immunity for their spouses

by James Park
The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed yesterday that same-sex spouses of diplomats posted to the country are not entitled to full diplomatic immunity and other privileges in Taiwan currently enjoyed by their straight counterparts.
The statement was made after an anonymous diplomatic official complained to local media that his same-sex partner was not being offered a diplomatic visa.

James Chang of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told local media that the decision was made “in accordance with the existing law, but the ministry will examine how other countries handle such situations”.

Homosexuality is legal in Taiwan and in 2003, politicians attempted to introduce same sex marriage, although the legislation stalled in parliament. A 2006 survey found that 75 per cent of Taiwanese adults considered gay relationships to be acceptable. Very few countries have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan as China refuses to have relations with states that recognise the country. The Vatican City is the only European state with full diplomatic relations. Other countries include Belize and Panama.

August 09, 2011 – On Top Magazine

Taiwan To Host Gay Marriage Celebrations

by On Top Magazine Staff
A gay rights group in Taiwan has announced it will host the wedding celebrations of 60 lesbian couples, the AFP reported. The symbolic weddings are part of a campaign to legalize gay marriage in the island nation, which restricts marriage to heterosexual couples. Roughly 1,000 people are expected to attend the mass wedding, which will take place during a private ceremony later this month. Organizers also said the event is a celebration of the recent legalization of gay marriage in New York. “We are celebrating the recent legalization of gay marriage in New York,” said organizer AJ Wang, “and we hope that Taiwan will make the same move in the near future.”

“We also want the public to see that so many gay couples are committed to each other and they deserve to be recognized and treated fairly,” she added. Taiwan became the first country in Asia in 2003 to introduce a bill that would legalize gay marriage and allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, but President Ma Ying-jeou has said public support is needed before the measure can be debated. Last year’s Gay Pride Parade drew 30,000 revelers.

August 22, 2011 – The China Post

Taiwan hosts its biggest same-sex ‘wedding’ party

by Amber Wang, AFP
Taipei – About 80 lesbian couples tied the knot in Taiwan’s biggest same-sex “wedding party,” with organizers saying Sunday they hoped the island will become the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage.
Many of the couples donned white dresses and veils for the “Barbie and Barbie’s wedding,” which was held overnight in downtown Taipei, attracting about 1,000 visitors, including friends, relatives and curious onlookers. “I feel very hopeful that Taiwan will legalize same-sex marriage soon,” said one of the brides, 32-year-old stylist Celine Chen, who plans a honeymoon in New York, which in June became the sixth U.S. state to legalize gay marriage.

Even though same-sex unions are not allowed in Taiwan, the ceremonies — which had no legal force — went on smoothly without police interference or protests. Many of the couples kissed, hugged and posed for photographs while receiving an unofficial certificate from the organizers that stated they were now “united in holy matrimony.” The event climaxed with a couple exchanging rings and saying “I do” amid roaring cheers from the crowd. But in a brief moment of sadness, some of the participants acknowledged that the marriages were not bona fide.

“The ‘wedding party’ is fun but it’s not real,” said Coral Huang, who has been with her partner for eight years and intends to go to Europe to wed legally. “Getting a genuine marriage certificate is very meaningful, as it shows that we are being recognized and accepted.” Gay marriage is not legal anywhere in Asia, and although Nepal‘s Supreme Court has approved it, no legislation has been passed in Kathmandu to put the ruling into effect. Taiwan is becoming more open-minded towards its homosexual population, and the island’s gay rights groups last year said they had hosted Asia’s biggest gay pride parade, with a turnout of 30,000 from at home and abroad.

In a 2008 opinion poll by the International Social Survey Program, a global network dedicated to social science research, 17.5 percent of Taiwanese participants said that homosexual behavior was “not wrong at all.” While significantly lower than the United States, where 32.3 percent held that view, it was much higher than the 5.5 percent in Japan and 4.4 percent in the Philippines. The cabinet in 2003 drafted a controversial bill to legalize same-sex marriages and allow homosexual couples to adopt children, but President Ma Ying-jeou has said public consensus was needed before the government can move ahead with the law.

Some couples remained pessimistic that the government would go through with the legislation. “It is too difficult now as the Taiwanese culture and customs are still more conservative,” said kindergarten teacher Jessica, who declined to give her last name and who keeps her sexual orientation from her colleagues. Activists also noted that legalizing gay marriage is unlikely to figure on the island’s political agenda in the near future. “Politicians say they respect same-sex unions and take it seriously as a human rights issue but we don’t see them take any actions,” said Chen Pin-ying, executive chief editor of Lez’s Meeting Magazine, which hosted the party.

“This is the political reality as gays are a minority group,” said Chen.

2 Sepember 2011 – Fridae

Thai transgender conscripts no longer "insane"

by News Editor
The Thai military has agreed to stop labelling katoeys and male-to-female transgenders who are exempt from military conscription as suffering from a "permanent mental disorder" but instead having a gender identity disorder."
After a longstanding effort by a group of katoeys to have the policy changed, the Thai military has now agreed to stop classifying katoeys and male-to-female transgender conscripts as having a "permanent mental disorder" and will instead use the term "gender identity disorder" by April next year, reported the Bangkok Post today.

Gender identity disorder (GID) is a formal diagnostic term used to describe people who experience significant gender dysphoria, discontent with their biological sex and the gender they were assigned at birth. The Commissaire du Gouvernement, a judge attached to the Administrative Court, on Monday argued in a submission to the court against further use of the term "mental illness" for katoeys who had yet to undergo a sex reassignment surgery.

The Post reported on Wednesday that a group of katoeys led by Samart Micharoen filed a petition with the court against the 2005 military conscription records that clearly grouped Samart and other transvestites as people with a "permanent mental disorder". More than having to bear the the insult, those who were exempted from military service for having a "permanent mental disorder" face difficulties getting a job, opening a bank account, or trying to get a visa to travel to a foreign country. Currently and under the new changes, transgender people are exempt from military service that may last up to two years. Although many of the 100,000 places each year are filled by volunteers, the rest are drafted through a lottery that many hope to lose. As many as half million young Thai men face the military conscription lottery each year.

Earlier this year, the Post reported that the military had proposed to classify men being Type 1, 2 or 3. Type 1 refers to “men whose appearances are typical of men” while Type 2 refers to “men” who have undergone breast augmentation and Type 3 comprises those who had sex reassignment surgery. "Normally only Type 1 are required to draw a conscription ballot," Thaksin Chiamthong, director of the academic resources division of the Army Reserve Command, was quoted as saying in the Post. "But if the number of Type 1 is insufficient, Type 2 will be conscripted as well, despite their female-like breasts."

The latest news report in the Post makes no mention of the Type 1, 2 and 3 classification system. Ministry spokesman Thanathip Sawangsaeng said the ministry had sent a proposal to the Council of State, the government’s legal arm, to change the term. If the change is approved, it will be submitted to the cabinet for a decision. "The ministry considers the issues of people’s rights and freedom as important and treats individuals with respect," Col Thanathip said.

2011 October 29 – Taiwan Times

Gay parade calls for end to discrimination

by Christie Chen – Central News Agency
More than 50,000 people shouted "LGBT fight back! Discrimination get out!" to voice their support for gay and lesbian rights at a parade in Taipei Saturday, one of the largest of its kind in Asia. Members of over 100 student, human rights, and gay and lesbian groups marched and chanted the parade’s slogan "Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people fight back! Discrimination get out!" to call for an end to gender and sexuality discrimination. Colorful flags, expressive signs and people dressed in fanciful costumes dominated the streets as the annual carnival event kicked off. The groups were divided into seven teams to represent the seven colors of a rainbow, a symbol of diversity and acceptance in the LGBT community. "We are not monsters or troublemakers. We are beautiful rainbows," chanted gay and lesbian protesters.

J.J. Lai, convener-in-chief of the parade, said that while previous parades did not use such direct and strong language, the LGBT community was "really getting angry" this year. He said several recent incidents indicated that discrimination was still prevalent in Taiwan, including the questioning by a former politician of the sexual orientation of opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen. He also criticized a self-proclaimed parents group for preventing the release of teaching materials that would educate elementary and junior high school students on gender equality and gay issues, and a local commercial district for driving a gay health and cultural center out of the area. "We cannot be silent anymore. We have to express our anger," Lai said. Chen Hui-yuan, president of National Tsing Hua University’s student association, said that his group participated in the parade because it cared about how the next generation is educated on gay issues and to support gay and lesbian students at his university.

"We want to let them know that they are not alone," Chen said. Chen Liang-fu, a member of National Taiwan University‘s student association, said he thought taking to the streets was the most direct way to show support for gay and lesbian people, whose rights he said should be respected and protected. Google Inc., the only company to join the parade this year, grabbed attention with a dancing Android robot, which it said was an "open" platform that symbolized Google’s open culture. Andy Cheng, a Google engineer, said his company participated this year because the spirit of the parade to promote diversity coincided with Google’s respect of diversity. "We want to tell people that being yourself is the right thing to do," Cheng said. It was the ninth consecutive year the parade was held in Taipei.

31 October 2011 – Global Voices

Taiwan: Photos from the LGBT Pride Parade 2011 in Taipei

More than 50,000 people joined the annual Taiwan LGBT Pride parade in Taipei on October 29, 2011, marking the biggest gay pride parade in Asia. The Taiwanese LGBT community has been struggling for decades to obtain equality and respect. Though there is less and less hostility in everyday life interaction, discrimination is still very much embedded in the education and legal system.

Compared with the very direct, “in- your- face” hostility toward LGBT people a decade ago, the anti- LGBT groups nowadays have learnt to say words like “we respect LGBT people” and pretend to be liberal. In the meanwhile they never stop trying to deprive LGBT people of basic citizen rights. Furthermore, they even started to adopt unethical means to influence the legislators and policy makers, which might jeopardize our precious achievement of democratic development. Under this tough circumstance, Taiwan LGBT Pride Community urges the LGBT people to be more cautious about discrimination in the culture and society, and keep uncovering the well- camouflaged hostility in order to build a more solid foundation for our human rights.

First held in 2003 with about 500 participants, the event has quickly grown more popular with 25,000 people participating in 2009, and 30,000 in 2010. This year, the participant record has been broken again. Under the theme “LGBT fight back! Discrimination get out!”, the parade started at Kaidagelan Boulevard in Taipei and separated into two routes before reconvening at the Kaidagelan Boulevard. Demonstrators demanded respect for the sexual orientation and preferences of youth, implementation of sex education, legalization of gay marriage, and also decriminalization of sex work.

See photos here